Youth Football talent and lots of goals was centre stage at Stade des Martyrs in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa, as the African Schools Champions cup organised by FIFA to support grassroots football development on the African continent in association with CAF, got off to a great start on Saturday, February 19, 2022 featuring Boys and Girls teams form host DRC, South Africa, Morocco, Ethiopia, Senegal and the Benin Republic.
It was a festival atmosphere on day one with national pride at stake, with a large turnout of more than 12000 home support for the hosts, but Congo DR Girls team were on the receiving end of one of the most entertaining games even with the massive home support, Morocco produced a high scoring performance beating the hosts 7-1, the North Africans also defeated South Africa 1-0
Earlier, South Africa beat Congo DR 1-0, Ethiopia upset Senegal 2-0 but the biggest result of the day was Benin who recorded 10-0 over Senegal Girls.
Radia Laghni of Morocco Girl’s team said: Our team played well against such a strong team in Congo DR but I am happy with his game today.”
Morocco Boys emulated their Girls beating South Africa 7-0, Ethiopia Boys team beat Congo 2-1, Senegal defeated South Africa 2-1 and Congo DR fans still reeling from the heavy defeat of their Girls roared to salute their boys who came from a gola down to record a big 4-1 win over Benin Republic.
Ethiopia Boys captain, Simon Habtamu was delighted with their performance: “This is a great opportunity for me and my country to play at this tournament. We played against DR Congo in our first game and they were bigger than us physically but we stayed focused and won.”
“We are excited about playing in a big competition like this because we have now learnt so much about other teams from across Africa.”
Congo’s Chance Kasindi “First, I want to thank my team-mates. The game went very well despite losing the first half, but we put in the effort and went on to win the second. The tournament is a great opportunity for us . I ‘ve been aiming to play this type of competition for a while and we are going to do our best.”
.FIFA’s General Secretary, was on ground and She said, “The intention was also to see all 54 African national associations come together in one country to allow children to use sport as a way to embrace the values that football generally conveys. They include fighting against discrimination, positive masculinity, but also fighting against any form of social bias. At the heart of it, the idea is for these children to eventually become role models for their community, but also for their country, as well as the true development of players through this training”.
The tournament continues Sunday with the knockout stage and it’s expected that FIFA president, Gianni Infantino will be on hand to grace the closing events.
The vision for the African School Champions Cup was born exactly one year ago during a visit to Democratic Republic of Congo by President Infantino and delivered with the support of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), The Congolese Association Football Federation (FECOFA) and the United nations Development Programme(UNDP)